Capt. Steve Says...
What does it take to make a pontoon boat, that’s the result of a women’s focus group, appealing to men? And what kind of things would women ask for in a pontoon boat anyway? These were the questions swirling around in my head as I went to check out the Harris Flotebote Grand Mariner SEL 250. I’m not sure what women would want, I never am, but I have my own list of what I want. The boat would also have to be uber-functional with not only gobs of storage everywhere, but also carry some of the qualities of the slicker bowriders and deckboats to boot. But these are qualities that pontoons usually lack so I wasn’t too optimistic when I went to do my check out of the Grand Mariner SEL 250. How wrong I was…
The women’s angle...
So what did women ask for in their ideal pontoon boat? Well it wasn’t central vacuuming and a washer/drier combo! I know… surprised me too! The top of the list was storage, lots of it, and it had to be able to change to the whims of the day. Harris Flotebote went to work and came up with more storage than a warehouse. It’s seemingly everywhere. And in the optional entertainment center (add $1,070), they created “smart storage” where you actually have dividers to insert in various places to create storage sections depending on what you have to store, be it dry towels, wet towels or silverware. The SEL 250 owner can create 55 different storage configurations to suit any storage need. Dock lines getting in the way? No worries, go with the retractable dock lines option (add $490). Next on the list, easy to maintain. Men are slobs, women clean, so this boat makes it easy. The textures of the seats are such that no moisture will collect in corners or low spots, and the material is Torino vinyl with Prefixx built in to ease removal of marks and stains. Typically, when a cleaner such as 409 is used on vinyl, it strips the protectant off and then every wet bathing suit leaves a color stain. Prefixx allows you to use even nail polish remover without doing harm to the seats, so even accidently writing on the seat with a Sharpie is no problem.
Third big item on the list was safety, and the accommodations for that cure is evident everywhere. The gates all have full length stops, so falling into one from a boat wake will not mean falling through. The re-boarding ladder is custom built, not off the shelf. It’s 20” (51cm) wide with 2.5” (6.4cm) foot pads, and made of heavy duty stainless steel. You typically see these ladders with three steps that are difficult to step onto. Four is better. This ladder has 5 steps and it’s angled out so it’s easier to find underwater with your foot. Decks run out past the ends of the tubes, non-skid is everywhere you would step (even on top of the nav lights)… the list goes on and on.
What about what men want...
The boat doesn’t come with Hooters waitresses, but guy’s needs are addressed in a big way. Want tunes? No worries… an Alpine system with speaker placement designed by Sony should work (add $395). Grill? How about a stainless steel option (add $300)? Bucket seats? Try high rise pedestal seats with armrests (add $140/pr). There’s even an option for including pop-out footrests, like a Laz-E-Boy on the water (add $870/pr)! Now we’re talking. Add on an inflatable mattress for power naps (add $230). There’s a large swim platform with oversized sunpad at the stern with a flip up backrest. An option for faux teak is available for good looks and non-skid traction (add $1,260).
More changes in the works...
Even after building what was thought to be the ultimate toon, the design team at Harris Flotebote still listens and still improves on the product. Being added onto the 2010 model are two version of an electrically actuated bimini. One that lays down for low bridge clearance, and another that also fully deploys at the touch of a button. They are also moving the stereo to the helm rather than giving the captain just a remote… obviously they’ve been reading my captain’s reports (and if so, then please address my other pontoon gripe and re-mount the engine controls so that they are on the horizontal and include an armrest for incremental adjustments. No pontoon builder does this, so you can be the first).
The Harris Flotebote Grand Mariner SEL 250 has a LOA of 27’ 4” (8.3m), a beam of 8’ 6” (2.6m), and a max draft of 30” (76cm). Her weight is 4,610lbs (2,091kg) and she carries a 50 gallon (189 L) fuel capacity. Standard engine is a 260-hp Merc 5.0 MPI with a Bravo III outdrive, and the only option is to upgrade to a 300-hp 350 MAG MPI with the Bravo III (add $2,230). Her base price is $56,540. Clearly this is a boat that brings a new level of attention to detail to the table. Short of having a dedicated wait staff, there’s not much that this boat leaves you wanting for. Yes, most of the choices are on the options list, but they should be. Not everyone wants everything in their boat and the ability to choose is the hallmark of a successful boat model. I went into this checkout with the attitude that pontoons are basically decks on tubes with a lot of seats. I came out with a vastly different opinion, and the idea of entertaining a crowd of friends on this boat has more than its share if appeal. In fact, it’s a likely scenario.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Structural Lifetime Warranty
||Lifetime Structural Warranty|